The Estimates Debate and the Committee of Supply
budget debate concludes, the next step is the Estimates debate, which takes place in the Committee of Supply. All MLAs are members of the Committee of Supply, and, like a
Committee of the Whole, it meets in the
Legislative Chamber, with the
Deputy Speaker presiding over the debate as its chair. The
Speaker is not in the Chamber during committee proceedings.
The Committee of Supply can be enabled by a Sessional Order (a change to the
Standing Orders that only lasts for one session) to sit in
more than one location at once. The Committee of Supply may split into as many as three sections to debate the Estimates. Committee of Supply "Section A" meets in the Douglas Fir Room, "Section B" meets in the Chamber, and "Section C" meets in the Birch Room.
Cabinet minister responsible for a particular section of the Estimates being present to answer any questions, the Committee of Supply debates how much money should be allotted to a government ministry for its annual operations. Members of the government and opposition parties have an opportunity to ask questions about ministry plans and the use of its proposed budget. It is a relatively informal question and answer series that can last for many days. Ministers are often accompanied by senior public servants acting as advisors who help ensure all the information discussed is accurate and up to date.
When there are no further questions, a vote will take place in the Committee on whether that ministry’s budget should be approved. Once the Committee has reported to the Assembly on the completion of the examination of each ministry’s budget, the Minister of Finance moves that the Assembly agree to the necessary financial resolutions of each ministry as passed by the Committee of Supply.
Next, the Legislative Assembly passes a
public bill called the supply bill. The supply bill reflects the total of the amounts contained in each ministry's budget as it was previously adopted by the Committee of Supply. This budget approval process is known as
DID YOU KNOW?
On March 26, 1992, the Legislative Assembly motioned to divide the Committee of Supply into two smaller committees: Section A and Section B. By having two committees to examine the Estimates, multiple Estimates can be debated by different MLAs at the same time, allowing for the efficient use of Assembly time and giving Members the opportunity to debate the issues important to them. In 2012, Section C was approved by the Assembly, creating even more time to effectively debate the Estimates.